The relationship between diseases and feeding patterns is so closely intertwined that some foods are considered ‘fatal mistakes’ when sufferers of certain diseases consume them. For diabetes, a metabolic disease, this becomes more complicated as the disease demands sufferers to know as much as their changing body functionality. With diabetes, it’s not just about “never eat this food” but also “how has your body functions changed in relation to nutrient A or B”.
Statistics from the Diabetes Atlas, a global body that provides periodic statistics on the disease, show that 2 per cent of Rwandans are suffering from diabetes.
More than 700 of this percentage are youth below the age of 25, according information from Rwanda Diabetes Association.
Random research by Healthy Times shows that most diabetic people do not know what to eat and what to avoid.
Diabetes is a condition in which the body either does not produce enough, or does not properly respond to insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas.
Diabetes is classified into type I –common in children; type 2 for adults; and Gestational diabetes, common in some pregnant mothers and can be cured.
Unlike many other medical conditions, people with diabetes are usually limited in what food is good for them and what is not.
This, therefore, makes it vital that diabetic persons know the foods they are supposed to eat and those to kick out in order to keep healthy.
Diabetes is a metabolic disease that needs a special diet, according to Rene Tabaro Karinijabo, a nutritionist and dietician at King Faisal Hospital, Rwanda.
The diabetic person has to know their body mass index (BMI) since it also determines what they should eat or leave out, depending on whether the BMI is high or low, Karinijabo said.
Tabaro notes also that diabetes is a chronic disease with a malaise characteristic of lowering immunity (ability to fight diseases).
Foods to eat
Foods high in proteins are among those that should be on the menu of someone who has diabetes. Protein giving foods boost the immunity and also help one have anti-bodies, according to Tabaro.
He also advises that diabetic people should also eat moderate carbohydrates that produce energy as well as consume foods rich in vitamins, mineral salts and fibre.
Among the protein giving foods he recommended includes fish, silver fish and white egg among others as these don’t contain cholesterol.
Fresh beans and peas should also be on the diet of the diabetic patient as these are low in carbohydrates compared to dry beans and peas.
The nutritionist also recommends green vegetables are also very key among foods eaten by diabetic people although hastening to add that carrots aren’t a good Idea as these increase the level of sugar in the blood.
“All foods that can increase the sugar levels in the blood should be avoided by diabetic people as these can worsen their health. Diabetics should, therefore, stick to foods that instead stabilise the sugar levels,” Tabaro advises.
Among the other foods he recommends for diabetic people include those rich in fibre, and some fruits such as watermelon, tangerine, oranges, apples and lemon.
However, Tabaro says fruits such as bananas and pineapple are not recommended as they increase sugar levels, which is not health for diabetic sufferers.
Salad such as cucumber, broccoli, garlic and lettuce among others help the body to produce insulin therefore recommended as they are also high in fibre which stabilises sugar levels in the blood. Soya tea is advisable, not normal tea leaves and coffee.
Cooking oil & diabetes
While many people think cooking oils should be avoided, it isn’t the case, according to the nutritionist.
“Not all oils are bad as some are vital for the body since they provide energy. Only oils with cholesterol should be avoided. Vegetable oils such as soya oil, olive oil and sunflower contain anti-oxidants that help the body fight fats and other wastes in the body from food,” he said.